No visit to the Springfield area would be complete without spending some time on the rivers and lakes in our neck of the woods.
Want to fish around while you’re in town? There are plenty of spots to cast a line. Be sure to buy a license from a vendor or online and keep it with you. The Missouri Department of Conservation has a handy app that allows you to purchase and download your fishing license anytime.
Looking to catch some trout? One popular spot is Roaring River State Park. You can flyfish and use bait or use plastic lures without worrying about tangling up lines. You can rent equipment and buy a license at the fishing store.
At Bennett Springs State Park you can fish in cool pools near stone arch bridges where 100,000 gallons of water pour from the spring every day, and rainbow trout are restocked daily. Want to cast a little closer to town and have your own gear? You can fish for bass from the Grant Street Bridge at McDaniel Lake. Just remember that this is the only place where you can fish McDaniel Lake.
If you want more variety—walleye, crappie, largemouth bass and more—try fishing at Fellows Lake. You can buy bait and tackle at the store. This lake also features big muskies, but remember, they are nicknamed “the fish of 10,000 casts” for a reason. The Watershed Committee of the Ozarks helps manage the Valley Water Mill Park. Here you can catch plenty of largemouth bass, bluegill and channel catfish.
Need to get your float on? You can easily float the James River, which has several access points. If you need a kayak, you can choose from several outfitters along the river. Be sure to call ahead for a reservation because around here, people like to get on the water every chance they get. Once you’ve booked your kayaks, start packing your snacks and your cooler. Don’t forget your sunscreen and life jacket!
At Lake Springfield Boathouse and Fellows Lake Store you can rent kayaks and canoes by the hour or the day. Paddles and life jackets are included in the cost. Want to go for a float without worrying about planning meals or routes? 37 North Expeditions is your go-to for guided trips year-round. They can even help you plan a private excursion.
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Stand up paddleboarding (SUP) is a fresh take on paddling and a fun way to get on the water and check out the wildlife. You can even get a great workout because you have to keep your balance while on the board. Never tried it? No worries. Boards are lightweight and wide, so you can keep your balance, even on your first try. Show Me SUP offers guided floats on the James River, and offers daily SUP rentals. You can also check out the Finley River near Ozark with a guided sunset paddle.
Feel like an adventurous yoga workout? Check out Ozarks SUP Yoga for fitness classes on Table Rock Lake. This nearby SUP guide also offers guided floating meditations. Want to try paddleboarding on a gentle surface? Want to meet water enthusiasts? Ozark River Walkers hosts SUP events all over the area. You can bring your own SUP, or rent one from ORW and join them for a paddle.
Boating or Wakeboarding
Photo courtesy of Branson Convention & Visitors Bureau
Head about 45 minutes south from Springfield, and you'll find yourself at Table Rock Lake. Rent a boat and enjoy miles and miles of shoreline. This is a popular lake for water skiing, wakeboarding and wake surfing. There are also plenty of quiet coves you can anchor in for a leisurely swim.